By Aniekpeno John Inyang
Mr. Godwin Obaseki was returned Governor of Edo state following the gubernatorial election in the state on Saturday the 19th of September, 2020. The outcome of the election is significant for a lot of factors most important of those factors being electoral violence.
Weeks leading to the elections witnessed fears of electoral violence coming from different areas. The two dominant political parties, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), were accused of engaging in electoral campaigns suggestive of encouraging electoral violence during election day. Samson Itodo the Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, a civil society group that conducted pre-election activities in Edo state had claimed that they had received reports of fake news mongering and hate-speech rhetoric employed as campaign strategies by both parties for campaigns. The United Kingdom on her part through the British High Commission in Nigeria had given sound warning to parties in the election to steer clear of electoral violence or risk entry denial into the United Kingdom. The fact that Nigerians feared that the Edo elections would be another Manifestation of violence and all forms of electoral malpractice are obviously no news.
Election day came and went by leaving hope and a victory for Democracy in its wake. The election received positive reviews from all quarters. Yiaga Africa that had feared electoral violence commended the conduct of the polls and the role of security agencies in forestalling violence. A part of the statement released by the group after the election read “Yiaga Africa commends and congratulates the people of Edo state for maintaining peace through the voting and counting and result collation process across the state”. Idayat Hasan, The Director of the Center for Democracy and Development(CDD), in its report had this to say about the election “the election potentially augurs well for the future of democracy and development in the country, particularly in view of the determination shown by the electorate to protect their mandate and ensure that it counted in the critical penultimate months to the election day,”. The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, during an interview session on channels TV, despite belonging to the party that lost out in the election also had good things to say about the election. According to him “The election was reasonably decent. We were all worried about violence but there was very little violence or none at all.”
Perhaps the best news that followed the gubernatorial election was the olive branch extended by Godwin Obaseki to his main opponent in the election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Obaseki while receiving his certificate of return from INEC said “I am using this opportunity to extend a hand of fellowship to my brother, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and other colleagues in the APC to work with us to move Edo forward.
“On a specific note, I want to use this occasion to call on former national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, that the fight is over, to come and join in building the house where he was part of laying the foundation”.
The Edo elections are indeed a victory for Democracy as was said by the APC Chairman of the Caretaker / Extra – Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, in a statement titled, “ Edo State Governorship Election: Victory for Democracy, ”. All this points to the fact that there is hope for how for free and Fair elections devoid of violence in the country. Nigeria is moving forward, democracy is advancing and Nigerians are making their votes count. God bless Nigeria.
Aniekpeno John Inyang is a Public Policy Analyst.